July 21, 2011 By

Crimea Referendum Results Show Strong Backing For Russia

hThe preliminary results of the much disputed Crimea referendum on Sunday whether Ukraine’s Crimea region should join Russia or become an independent state have indicated the backing for Russia. Reports released from the Crimean Electoral Commission show that ninety five percent of voters in Crimea have backed joining Russia. Many Crimeans loyal to Kiev boycotted the referendum.

The pro-Russian forces took control of Crimea in February after the toppling of Viktor Yanukovych following street protests. The United States has condemned it as illegal and had said that it expected people to vote in favour of joining Russia. The EU condemned the referendum in a statement on Sunday that the vote was “illegal and illegitimate and its outcome will not be recognised” and urged Russia to withdraw its troops from the region.

With Moscow strongly backing the referendum, Russian president Vladimir Putin said he would respect the Crimean people’s wishes.

Majority of the population in Crimea are ethnic Russians with Ukrainians and Tatars constituting the rest. Tatars who boycotted the referendum asked the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev for more legal protection due to the severe prosecutions faced during the time when Crimea was part of Russia.

Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea’s leader, celebrated the referendum on stage in Simferopol, telling the supporters that Crimea was “going home” and asserted that a formal request to Moscow to join Russia would be sent on Monday. The Black Sea peninsula was part of Russia until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, in 1954.

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